Parietal bone
Position of parietal bone (shown in blue)
Side view of cranial bones showing parietal bone and the temporal lines
ArticulationsFive bones: the opposite parietal, the occipital, frontal, temporal, and sphenoid
Latinos parietale
Anatomical terms of bone

The parietal bones (/pəˈr.ɪtəl/) are two bones in the skull which, when joined at a fibrous joint, form the sides and roof of the cranium. In humans, each bone is roughly quadrilateral in form, and has two surfaces, four borders, and four angles. It is named from the Latin paries (-ietis), wall.



The external surface [Fig. 1] is convex, smooth, and marked near the center by an eminence, the parietal eminence (tuber parietale), which indicates the point where ossification commenced.

Crossing the middle of the bone in an arched direction are two curved lines, the superior and inferior temporal lines; the former gives attachment to the temporal fascia, and the latter indicates the upper limit of the muscular origin of the temporal muscle.

Above these lines the bone is covered by a tough layer of fibrous tissue – the epicranial aponeurosis; below them it forms part of the temporal fossa, and affords attachment to the temporal muscle.

At the back part and close to the upper or sagittal border is the parietal foramen which transmits a vein to the superior sagittal sinus, and sometimes a small branch of the occipital artery; it is not constantly present, and its size varies considerably.


The internal surface [Fig. 2] is concave; it presents depressions corresponding to the cerebral convolutions, and numerous furrows (grooves) for the ramifications of the middle meningeal artery; the latter run upward and backward from the sphenoidal angle, and from the central and posterior part of the squamous border.

Along the upper margin is a shallow groove, which, together with that on the opposite parietal, forms a channel, the sagittal sulcus, for the superior sagittal sinus; the edges of the sulcus afford attachment to the falx cerebri.

Near the groove are several depressions, best marked in the skulls of old persons, for the arachnoid granulations (Pacchionian bodies).

In the groove is the internal opening of the parietal foramen when that aperture exists.




The parietal bone is ossified in membrane from a single center, which appears at the parietal eminence about the eighth week of fetal life.

Ossification gradually extends in a radial manner from the center toward the margins of the bone; the angles are consequently the parts last formed, and it is here that the fontanelles exist.

Occasionally the parietal bone is divided into two parts, upper and lower, by an antero-posterior suture.

In other animals

Skull of the tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus), with the pineal foramen enclosed by the parietal bones

In non-human vertebrates, the parietal bones typically form the rear or central part of the skull roof, lying behind the frontal bones. In many non-mammalian tetrapods, they are bordered to the rear by a pair of postparietal bones that may be solely in the roof of the skull, or slope downwards to contribute to the back of the skull, depending on the species. In the living tuatara and some lizards, as well as in many fossil tetrapods, a small opening, the parietal foramen (also called the pineal foramen), is present between the two parietal bones at the midline of the skull. This opening is the location of the parietal eye (also called the pineal or third eye), which is much smaller than the two main eyes.[1][2][3]

In dinosaurs

The parietal bone is usually present in the posterior end of the skull and is near the midline. This bone is part of the skull roof, which is a set of bones that cover the brain, eyes and nostrils. The parietal bones make contact with several other bones in the skull. The anterior part of the bone articulates with the frontal bone and the postorbital bone. The posterior part of the bone articulates with the squamosal bone, and less commonly the supraoccipital bone. The bone-supported neck frills of ceratopsians were formed by extensions of the parietal bone. These frills, which overhang the neck and extend past the rest of the skull is a diagnostic trait of ceratopsians. The recognizable skull domes present in pachycephalosaurs were formed by the fusion of the frontal and parietal bones and the addition of thick deposits of bone to that unit.[4]

Additional images

See also


Public domain This article incorporates text in the public domain from page 133 of the 20th edition of Gray's Anatomy (1918)

  1. ^ Romer, Alfred Sherwood; Parsons, Thomas S. (1977). The Vertebrate Body. Philadelphia, PA: Holt-Saunders International. pp. 217–244. ISBN 0-03-910284-X.
  2. ^ Benoit, Julien; Abdala, Fernando; Manger, Paul; Rubidge, Bruce (2016). "The sixth sense in mammalians forerunners: variability of the parietal foramen and the evolution of the pineal eye in South African Permo-Triassic eutheriodont therapsids". Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. doi:10.4202/app.00219.2015.
  3. ^ Smith, Krister T.; Bhullar, Bhart-Anjan S.; Köhler, Gunther; Habersetzer, Jörg (April 2018). "The Only Known Jawed Vertebrate with Four Eyes and the Bauplan of the Pineal Complex". Current Biology. 28 (7): 1101–1107.e2. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2018.02.021.
  4. ^ Martin, A.J. (2006). Introduction to the Study of Dinosaurs. Second Edition. Oxford, Blackwell Publishing. pg. 299-300. ISBN 1-4051-3413-5.